Unstuck: Open to Experimentation

February 10, 2020 Cass Costa No Comments

Risk-taker. Brazen. Gutsy. Confident. On fire. When has someone last described me like this? It’s been a while, and I miss it. I miss the nervous high of not knowing if I’d exceed or fail, and then the satisfaction of attempting the task.

Which day was it this week that you said to yourself, “You know what, I know it’s out of routine, but I’d really like to do X,” and then did it? I have a mental list of things I’d like to do, but for some reason, I’m either too afraid or already have too much on my plate.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little stuck. I’ve stopped growing. Why is that? Is it because I’m six years into a teaching career, almost ten years into a loving relationship, and two years as a new mother? When did I stop being spontaneous? When did I stop reaching for things that seemed new and exciting? Why am I not challenging myself?  Why am I censoring my life?

Why am I not challenging myself?

I believe part of my limitation boils down to where I put my energy. After binge-watching a survivalist show, I was epiphany-struck when one of the guys referred to another survivalist’s downward spiral as “the slide”. This “slide” is when you know you have to reserve your energy for obstacles ahead, so you begin cutting corners. Even as you believe you’re making the right choices, you’ve stopped doing things properly. Slowly, your body receives less of what it actually needs and shuts down. It’s hard to claw your way out of a pit.

Now, we’re not out in the rainforest trying to live off of bugs, but I think the same thing could be applied to our personal lives. I’ve focused all of my energy into the trinity of my life: work, spouse, and child, that I’m not receiving back any self-sustaining energy. I’ve got to start doing things that serve me. 

Photo by Have Fun Do Good on Unsplash

(Note here: I am aware as I’m writing this that I might sound a little selfish. Yes, I know that the trinity needs me and my attention to it is not wasted, but I have to ask myself: why am I feeling like I’m being selfish? Shouldn’t I allow myself the time, space and energy to explore?)

As I was Googling this new idea–of me experimenting with things–I came across an article on Psychology Today by Alice Boyles, P.h.D., entitled “50 Ideas for Five Days” and I have to admit that I’m intrigued. Maybe you are too? 

There’s this game I like to play with myself when things come to a giant blank wall in my writing. It’s called “What If?” The rules are simple. At the top of the page, I scribble “What if…?” And then I choose the topic (let’s say my character doesn’t know what to do next), so I began listing any and everything that comes to mind, no matter how silly it may seem. This is my way of decensoring myself. What if Katie climbs the tree? What if Katie climbs the tree to cut a man down? What if he’s hanging? What if he’s caught up in a parachute? What if he’s the one who lit her house on fire? What if the man hanging there should be hanging there but Katie feels like she should save him anyway? You get the gist. So I’m going to play this little game with myself today. What if Cass…? I’ll let you know how it goes next post with Experiment 1.

Making Lists: Photo by Noémi Macavei-Katócz on Unsplash

Cass Costa
Cass Costa


Author Bio: Cass Costa is a fiction writer of the weird. She seeks to explore reality through the supernatural. As part-writer, part-mama, and part-teacher, she finds time in this vibrant triad for novel writing, spooky campfire stories, and traveling to foggy shores. She delightfully defended her thesis “Milk & Magic and Other Stories” in August of 2019 and received an MFA in Creative Writing at OSU-Cascades in Bend, Oregon. 

What’s Important to Cass: compassion; the dualities of the Mother figure; the unknown; facing mortality; writing about women and mothers; travel and learning of other cultures; integrating the taboo; magic, ghosts, witches and all things mysterious; guilty-pleasure campfire-style stories; an ocean metaphor, exploring familial curses; changing the image of crone; translation of fact to fiction; grounding fantastical elements in body and setting; the tradition of oral storytelling in what can be gained, inferred and lost. 

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